A Catholic Priest, removed from duty last summer, is now facing a criminal charge. 57-year-old Charles Townsend has been cited for furnishing alcohol to a minor. Witnesses reported Townsend provided alcohol to a 19-year-old at a Lincoln home in July of 2017. The 19-year-old became intoxicated and was eventually driven home by Townsend. A statement from Lincoln police said the citation was part of the joint investigation into the Lincoln Catholic Diocesan staff that started in September. The Police said the investigation is still actively looking for information about past or present criminal misconduct by diocesan staff. Anyone with information is urged to contact Lincoln Police investigator Cockle at 402.441.8980.
The Catholic Diocese of Lincoln removed Townsend from the ministry after he had an “emotionally inappropriate, non-sexual relationship” with a 19-year-old man. Townsend, pastor of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in South Lincoln at the time, was relieved of duty after Bishop James Conley learned of the relationship last year.
Conley confirmed in a statement, at the time, that the relationship involved alcohol. He also acknowledged regret over the way the matter was handled.“This past week, we reported this incident to the civil authorities,” Conley said in his statement. “I also met with the man and his parents and expressed my regrets for failing to inform them.” After learning of the report, Rev. Townsend was sent to the Shalom Center in Houston for treatment, and St. Peter’s priests and parishioners were told he went away for health reasons, Conley said.
“My failure at the time was the lack of transparency with the people of God about this incident. Despite reports to the contrary, I did not oblige anyone to keep silent about this matter,” Conley said.
The Lincoln Diocese has not yet confirmed Townsend’s whereabouts or current status.
Related: LPD Releases Crime Data For 2018